Using theatre to promote peace and stability in Somaliland

Somaliland: Theatre to promote peace and understanding

A team of Somali actors and musicians is near to completing a month long road show throughout Somaliland that works to bring a message of peace and stability in one of the world’s most troubled regions. Somaliland is a self-declared autonomous state within Somalia unrecognized by the international community. It is the most stable part of Somalia but remains desperately poor and vulnerable to instability from the violent conflict in Somalia as well as from tribal and regional conflict.

A message of peace and stability comes at a time when Somaliland receives little assistance from the international community and suffers from extremely limited resources and capacity. Travel within the region is still difficult and at times risky. It is in this context that IREX Europe has helped Somaliland’s Kow Media theatre troupe travel to 23 villages and towns and conduct 23 shows.

The first show, held on September 13 in the capital Hargeisa, set the tone for the 22 that followed: the show opened with traditional music and song and was followed by two theatre performances. The first featured the scenario of a recruiter from an armed group trying to seduce disenchanted youth with the possibility of money and status. The second focused on the problem of violent conflict between tribal groups and how best to avoid escalating tension. The troupe used traditional and local contexts, with a strong dose of humour and slapstick to keep the audience interested and to communicate their message. After the performances, local leaders and members of the theatre facilitated discussions on the issues raised, giving the opportunity for local people to express their grievances and concerns. As oral poetry plays a central role in Somali life, the audience was also encouraged to produce spontaneous poetry to further encourage discussion and participation.

IREX Europe has provided financial support with assistance from the British Government, as well as assisted Kow Media with capacity building, particularly in monitoring and evaluation techniques.

The project is an enlargement of Kow Media’s original Peace Caravan, originally developed with support from UNDP. The theatre troupe has received and continues to receive training from British theatre specialist Bill Brookman.

IREX Europe’s Somaliland project is supported by the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Strategic Programme Fund, formerly known as the Global Opportunities Fund.

For more on Kow Media and the Peace Caravan see:

For more on the UNDP’s work in Somaliland see:

For more on Bill Brookman’s work with Kow Media see:

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